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Occupy Protest Takes On Big Banks: 'I Am A Typical American'

Hillary Federico

November 06, 2011

As dozens of Occupy Hartford demonstrators converged on the grassy area near Farmington Avenue and Broad Street Saturday morning, one man said was preparing to fight against the world he had once been so familiar with.

"The corporate world that I started in was far from perfect, but nowhere near where it is now," said West Hartford resident Mike Winterfield. "I did well in the corporate world, but I got out."

Winterfield, a former employee at Sun Life Financial in Wellesley, Mass., was one of about 150 members of "Occupy Hartford" who took to the streets Saturday morning in solidarity with other national movements on what has been dubbed Bank Transfer Day.

The national effort is meant to encourage people to reinvest in their communities, specifically by transferring their accounts from major banks to smaller, locally-owned banks or credit unions. Saturday's protest came in the wake of some big banks' announcements that they would increase debit card fees, though some have since backed off.

Bank Transfer Day has been endorsed by other Occupy groups across the country, most notably Occupy Wall Street.

The weekend protest was one of many for Waterford resident Rich Swanson, who previously had attended Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Boston and Occupy New London rallies. Standing with white earphones trailing from his ears down his jacket, Swanson proudly held a freshly painted sign that said "Occupy my home."

Swanson, who has not once turned on his furnace yet this season, said he plans to save the roughly $120 a month he would've spent on bills and donate it to Occupy protesters.

"I feel like this is something I have to do," Swanson said of the protest. "I am a typical American. These people have got the right idea."

Chanting on the outskirts of Turning Point Park, a sliver of land near the intersection of Farmington Avenue and Broad Street, demonstrators began their march at 10 a.m., rallying before the backdrop of the State Capitol and I-84.

The group members made their way onto Asylum, Main and Park streets, pausing en masse at each Bank of America branch along the way; their message clear: "We are the 99 percent."

Bank of America, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the biggest banks in the country. Their many branches and ATMs are a familiar sight to residents across the state.

"We don't think convenience should trump using our money to help the economy here in Connecticut," said Rebecca Burton of Manchester in a release. "Bank of America has refused to use the money taxpayers 'loaned' them to help small businesses and homeowners here in Connecticut. We think that's wrong. We hope our protest against this bank's selfish policies will help in the nationwide campaign to get everybody to move their money out of Bank of America, and the other 'too big to fail' banks."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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